The ACPA Visiting Scholar Program began in 1995 with the aim of providing selected professionals with educational experience in the comprehensive management of cleft and craniofacial anomalies. The program has successfully produced 23 scholars who had the potential to establish and/or direct a multidisciplinary team care for children with cleft and craniofacial anomalies in their home country.
I was fortunate to have been mentored by the first African ACPA Visiting Scholar, Prof. Peter Donkor, through whom I got the opportunity to do my international fellowship in craniofacial surgery at the Children’s of Alabama Hospital, University of Alabama at Birmingham with Dr. John H. Grant.
As the 23rd ACPA Visiting Scholar, I had the opportunity of spending a week each at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, the San Francisco Children’s Hospital and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Craniofacial centres from 20th February to 11th March 2017. In all these centres, I had the honour of being part of their weekly multidisciplinary cleft and craniofacial conferences. It is at these meetings that they discuss cases and plan for the management of the cases. I also did observe various cleft and craniofacial cases in the operating theatre.
I had the opportunity also to present my experience at ACPA's 74th Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs.
Finally, I had the honour of being given a tour at the instruments manufacturing section of the Stryker Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan and gave a presentation on my experiences during my visit to the staff of Stryker on 20th March 2017.
This exposure has in no doubt given me a great insight in comprehensive cleft and craniofacial care. As a developing team in a developing country, I hope to use the acquired knowledge and experience:
- To bring our existing multidisciplinary cleft clinic to the level of an internationally recognized cleft and craniofacial centre in sub Saharan Africa.
- To train and advocate for multidisciplinary cleft care in Sub Saharan Africa.
I believe the new friends I made through this program will lead to international collaborations in skill training and research in our sub region.
I will like to express my appreciation to the following doctors and their teams for their wonderful hospitality and willingness to share with me.
Dr. Mark M. Urata, MD, DDS
(Head; Division of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, Los Angeles Children’s Hospital)
Dr. Jason Pomerantz, MD
(Director: San Francisco Children Hospital craniofacial centre. Division of plastic surgery)
Dr. Michael Cunningham, MD
(Director; Seattle Children’s Hospital Craniofacial Centre)
I also want thank my application sponsors, Dr. John H. Grant, MD, Alabama Children’s Hospital USA, Dr. Richard Hopper, Seattle Children’s Hospital USA, and Dr. Peter Donkor, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana.
I appreciate and sincerely thank the ACPA leadership, ACPA Executive Director Wendy Toyama, and the Visiting Scholar Selection Panel for considering my application and selecting me for this program.
Finally, I am grateful to the Stryker Company for supporting and sustaining this program. I, my fellows, residents, medical and dental students and our cleft and craniofacial patients, the beneficiaries of the seed planted in me will forever remain grateful to each and every one whose contribution in various ways made the 2017 Visiting Scholar Program a success.
DR. SOLOMON OBIRI-YEBOAH BDS, FGCS, IFCS (Alabama)
(Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology/Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana)